Yeti Snakebite 50K, August 27, 2016

Holy Humidity Batman! I don’t even know where to start with this race! 

Jason Green from Yeti Trail Runners hosts a Yeti Snakebite 50/50 each year at Sweetwater State Park in Lithia Springs, Georgia.  He changes it up each year usually offering 50K and 50M options thus the 50/50 and it’s held the last weekend in August.  August is not known for cool fall weather in Georgia! This year he changed it up and decided a 50K all at night would be a fun, so you had a 50K or 11 miler option!  This would be my 3rd year running the Snakebite 50/50.

Oh and another fun little change this year would be that the looped course (3 loops) would cross a river with a promise of an awesome island Aid Station in the middle.  Now how could this not be the best race of the summer!  If you’ve ever run at Sweetwater State Park, which most of the local ultra runners have all done at some point, you know the trails can be technical and sometimes challenging.

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Pre-race photo with Loren, Lisa, Carrie, myself, Stephanie and Mark

 

As with most races, we started our course with a short distanced on the paved road to a fire road that led us down to a large bridge crossing the river.  I know Sweetwater Park pretty well and have run at some point on most of the trails/roads through places Jason finds for us to run.  So the race really started out in very familiar territory for me.  I knew the trails, I knew the climbs and felt very comfortable with his course markings.  But as fate would have it, running in the heat, horrible humidity and the dark of night at Sweetwater would not be the easiest thing I’d ever done.   The race had started at 7pm so it would be an hour and a half before we were forced to turn on our headlamps.  I was hoping to get as much of the first loop completed before it got dark, thinking this would be very helpful in following the flagging and knowing my way during the dark night loops.

The island Aid Station was everything I’d envisioned, filled with several of my favorite running friends, island music, Christmas lights and a rope to aid our crossing.  A water station for refills was on the other side of the river crossing.  Once across the river during the first loop I felt again comfortable I knew my way around the main trails of the park, but of course a turn onto some trails I hadn’t been on before (or didn’t recognize at night) changed that.  A little extra distance getting off course and missing a turn told me that this had potential to be a long night. 

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River Crossing just before dark

I came in off loop one having run it with Stephanie Johnson, Loren Starr and Tony Taylor for the most part.  Stephanie was struggling with ITB issues and many of my friends and fellow runners were hanging at the Start/Finish and were dropping after the first loop.  Loren was having stomach issues, my Rock Starr friend had run a 20K that morning so he’d already run his A-race for the day, I’m guessing.  The volunteers were trying to get us out of the aid station, probably trying to keep as many moving as possible, so Tony agreed to run with me and we headed out for loop 2.  I had grabbed some cold Coke from my cooler before we left.

I really had no idea of our mileage or what time it was.  I’m usually paying close attention to that during my races but I had my watch setting on “bike” mode when I first started and after changing it a few miles into the course, I just didn’t bother looking at it.  Tony kept track on his and he would occasionally tell me we were doing good, but I asked him to keep the details of what that meant to himself.  All I really wanted to know was we were in good shape!  Well sort of. The second loop was really a mental funk for me.  My stomach wasn’t great but I can’t say it was terrible, I felt tired and just sort of generally struggling to stay focused.  It just seemed like a mental push.  During our second loop Tony and I helped another runner who kept missing the turns.  The course was marked well, but the night was very dark and it was easy to miss them if you didn’t either know exactly where they were or look up very often.  The technical course kept you looking down and I was lucky enough to be familiar with where we were most of the time.  After that our new friend Joey, decided he’d stick with us.  When he asked us if it was ok if he tagged along I remember Tony saying that’s how we roll, no problem.  Joey had drove down from another state just to run a Yeti race and we enjoyed his company for the remainder of the night.

The water crossing on the second loop helped turn things around some for me.  I still wasn’t feeling great but usually about half way through a course, just mentally I can get to a better place.  Because that AS was so remote there was very limited water there and this time through it was all but gone.  We managed to get a small amount from the bottom of one container.  We were fortunate as others behind us got none.  So sorry guys if we took the last of it.

The humidity of the night was really tough.  We got back in after our second loop and just knowing we had only 1 more loop was mentally a game changer for me.  After getting more cold Coke from my cooler, we were getting ready to head out when Stephanie and Loren came in together.  Loren was now really having stomach trouble and dropping, Stephanie said her knee was feeling better and wanted us to wait before we left for the final loop so she could join us.  Stephanie quickly grab something to drink and a bit to eat and caught up as the AS volunteers were again trying to get us all back out on the course.  Being the start and finish area it was very crowded.  If you haven’t done a looped course before, sometimes it becomes more like a party there later in the race and let me tell you, the idea of heading back out for another hard loop in the dark isn’t always the most appealing prospect.  I know some runner who don’t do looped races for that very reason.  It’s just too easy to call it a day (or night as it might be) and quit.  And if you know the Yeti Runners, it’s all about fun and beer!  So hey, there’s that too!  But off we went.

Last loop, we got this!  Our group was now 4 as we headed back out for the final time.  Everyone seemed to be feeling much better and ready to finish.  It’s always nice when you are on a final loop and you know it’s the last time you’ll have to do that climb or section again, and with each mile further into the loop, you’re that much closer to being done.  Another friend of ours, Richard had “leap frogged” with us the entire night and shortly into our loop became the 5th runner of our little group.  The power lines and the hills were tough climbs but we all found energy to run the downhill’s and flatter sections.  We looked forward to the water crossing one last time and everyone really just wanted to go for a swim at that point.  The water was pretty warm and not so refreshing but by the final crossing it felt a little cooler.  And this time through there was water at the AS although we were all well stocked knowing they probably wouldn’t have any.  A quick drink and we were up the hill and off towards the finish.  We again found our energy to run the flatter sections, avoiding the roots and rocks in fear of wiping out during the final stretch, as we headed to the finish and one Big A$$ finishers medal!  Yeti’s do it in style!  Awesome job Jason!

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Yeti Trail Runners, Not a Cult!

Where It All Started

I guess we all have a story, never did I think mine was all that interesting. Many times people will ask me, “When did you start running?”, “why did you start running?” or “what’s your story?” These are the same questions I would ask others, my curiosity into their story, their beginning.  The responses I often heard, “I’ve run most of my life,” “I ran in high school or college.” At first those responses immediately intimidated me, and kept me from sharing my story.  The feeling that I don’t belong in the category of “runner,” because I have no back ground or history of being a runner. But we all “have a story” and just like moving to the starting line of a race I put those fears behind me, this is my story to share.

My story starts as a full time mom of 3 kids and basically a couch potato.  Oh I played basketball in junior high and high school, grew up snow and water skiing, rode bikes and was always active outside.  But being a mom and working full time when my two oldest were young, I wasn’t very active.  As the girls got of age, my oldest daughter went off to college and number two was going to follow soon.  Our third child was born in 2001 and at that point I had become a full time stay at home Mom.

Fast forward to 2012, at the age of 48 I was basically overweight and out of shape, then a friend invited me to start hiking with her.  It was also a bonus that I could get my 3 dogs out of the house.  Not to mention that for the first time since living in Georgia, this was an opportunity to begin to explore parks and recreation areas that I’d never been to before.

To expand my hiking opportunities my friend encouraged me to join the Atlanta Outdoor Club (AOC), a club focused on hiking and other outdoor activities.  I was welcomed and inspired by so many outdoor enthusiasts in the AOC.  Soon I was joining faster fitness hikes and I began to really enjoy the challenge of trying to keep up with the fast pace hikers and was even starting to jog to keep up.  These weekly hikes became a 5 1/2 mile jog for me.  Next my friend asked me if I wanted to run the Peachtree Road Race.  I had never done anything like that, but living in Atlanta for over 20 years, I knew it was biggest 10K event around with 60,000 participants.  I immediately said I would, figuring running a 10K (6.2 miles) couldn’t be that much tougher than my 5 1/2  mile fast hikes.  I could at least finish it, plus I’m always willing to try most anything at least once. So in 2012 running the Peachtree Road Race was my first race ever.

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My daughter Katie and I right after my first Peachtree Road Race

Before long I signed up for other 5 and 10K races as well as running often with another friend who I met in the AOC who was a more experienced runner.  As a beginner and having no fitness back ground I started signing up for weekly trail runs with the AOC to build a base.  These runners did more than just run with me, they waited on me, they supported me, encouraged me,  and taught me that I could do whatever wanted to do.  I was slow at first so after one of my first runs with the group I began to bring my dog Summer, an Italian Greyhound, for company.  She’s still my best running buddy and joins me on all my training runs up to 30 miles and runs a few races with me too.

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On the AOC fitness hikes I met Stacey who became and still is a good friend. Stacey was a runner and really wanted me to do a half marathon with her. That seemed like a long ways from the 5 or 6 miles I had gotten used to running but as I said, “I’m willing to try anything at least once.”  However, others had cautioned me to train and not just jump into it like I had done with the Peachtree Road Race.  So we agreed on the Georgia Publix Half Marathon in March of 2013, and I began to train for the longer distance.

While training for the half marathon, Stacey asked me about running a marathon.  At this point I wasn’t sure I could do a half marathon and I’d never even thought of running a marathon.  A marathon wasn’t even on my radar.  By now Stacey and I were close enough friends that I knew her background.  You see Stacey was a breast cancer survivor of 10 years.  She was a young, single mom when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a double mastectomy, chemo and several additional surgeries.  She had turned to running during her recovery.  Running a marathon was a bucket list item for Stacey and I knew immediately if she could go through all that, I could run 26.2 miles for her.   We signed up for the October 2013 Chicago Marathon and spent the summer and fall training.  We had the best time running together and a great first marathon experience.  She will always be my initial inspiration for running a marathon and continues inspires me as a friend and cancer survivor!

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Stacey & I before the Chicago Marathon

Would I run another marathon?  The first marathon I ran for Stacey but I felt like I wanted to run another for me. A tough question with a passionate response…”YES”.  Two weeks later I upgraded an Atlanta Track Club 10 mile race to the Atlanta Marathon.

After two more road marathons in early 2014 I finally did my first trail marathon.  The trails are where I began to run and enjoyed most of my training runs.  The feeling of running through the woods, the challenge of climbing the mountains and the technical nature of the trails really developed my passion for trail running.  The community I found during that first trail marathon hooked me.  The trails are where I truly enjoy and love to run.

Now that trail running had become my happy place, a month later I did my first 50K, an Ultra Marathon (any distance longer than 26.2 miles is considered an Ultra Marathon). Again I thought it would be one of my “try something once and done” type things.  But now the trails had become my love and the distance was an enjoyable challenge.

Soon with some encouragement from another running friend I began a quest to run a 100 mile race.  Not only was this something way out of my wheel house, I had never even heard of it before.  But the challenge was something that excited me.  How could a middle-aged mother of 3 who didn’t even start running until the age of 48 begin to consider such a thing?  So this is my journey.

I am an ordinary woman, wife and mother. My faith and family are of most importance to me on this journey that I am embracing. A journey that takes me through the good, the bad and the difficult, the ups and the downs along the way, and what keeps me going.

A trail running mom on the path to run 100 miler! I truly believe that EVERY STEP IS A BLESSING! Posting and sharing little bits of trail wisdom as I go!

 

 

 

 

Yeti Snakebite 50/50, August 31, 2014

I had a very big Labor Day weekend. The Yeti Snakebite 50K was sandwiched between The ATL 20k and the Big Peach Sizzler 10K. A very Ambitious running weekend!

I started the weekend Saturday, August, 30th with The ATL 20K. My goal as I started this race was to have a nice easy run with plenty of rest for the 50k the next day. As a bonus I placed in my Age Group!

Beautiful skyline picture in The ATL 20K.
Beautiful skyline picture in The ATL 20K.

The Yeti Snakebite 50K was next on Sunday, August 31. It was a very hot day in Georgia. This would be an 11 mile, 3 loop course for the 50K. I had begun using  Tailwind (www.tailwind.com) for my hydration during recent training runs. I had a cool packed with refills for my pack, along with snacks and other items for my drop bags. Another mom from Peachtree City contacted me a few weeks before asking if she could run with Laura and I, and we gladly invited her to join us for this (her first Ultra).

Running at end of 1st loop.
Running at end of 1st loop.

We started our pace slow and steady, kept reminding each other to hydrate often and not go too fast. By the half way mark we had seen runners in trouble and dropping out, but we continued on our pace. The course had variable terrain with several climbs. There was single track, rocks, steps, and technical sections throughout the race. The half way aid station was fantastic with enthusiastic volunteers who helped us load our packs and supplied really good snacks each time we went through there.

At the end of our second loop, my husband, Ed had surprised me by being at the aid station and showing up to support me. Ed is a fire fighter and EMT and was quickly put to work with all the runners struggling with dehydration, etc. We headed into our final loop feeling strong and ready to complete our 50K. Laura’s family was there to greet us as we finished.

Laura's kids running through the finish line us.
Laura’s kids running through the finish line with us.

This would all be just the beginning as it only made me want to push to the next level.

http://yetitrailrunners.com/